Gary Holt Slams Bands Using Backing Tracks: ‘It’s Phony’

In a video message for the Syncin’ Stanley YouTube channel, Gary Holt voiced his critique against the use of backing tracks in live performances, branding such practices as deceitful.

Holt’s opinions were laid bare in a Cameo video request, where he was asked about his stance on singers employing backing tracks for their lead vocals. His response did not hold back, as he said:

“Lip-syncing [is] bad. Sing the sh*t. Now, if you did a record that has a giant choral orchestra on it, yeah, go ahead and sync that sh*t up and use it. But play and sing your main vocals. Backing tracks? It’s cool if you’re like Rob Zombie and you’ve got a bunch of sequence keyboard stuff; go for it.”

The Authenticity Debate In Live Performances

The guitarist added, drawing a clear line when the practice veers into the territory of miming core elements of a band’s sound:

“The rest of the band are all playing that sh*t live, and that’s the way it should be. You’re just filling it up. But there are bands out there that are using pre-recorded guitar tracks, and you wonder how that one guy on stage sounds so f*cking huge. It’s because it’s not him. It’s f*cking phony. And why even bother playing? That sh*t sucks.”

Industry Voices Join The Fray

The conversation around backing tracks isn’t limited to Holt’s comments. KISS frontman Paul Stanley has faced scrutiny over his vocal performances on the End Of The Road tour, with accusations of singing to a backing tape. KISS’s manager, Doc McGhee, defended Stanley, saying:

“He sings every track. So he sings to it. So he’s not lip-syncing. He fully sings. It’s enhanced. It’s just part of the process to make sure that everybody hears the songs the way they should be sung, to begin with. Nobody wants to hear people do stuff that’s not real; that’s not what they came to hear. He’ll sing to tracks. It’s all part of a process. Because everybody wants to hear, everybody sings. But he fully sings to every song.”

Other Perspectives

Echoing Holt’s sentiments, Mudvayne’s Chad Gray also expressed frustration with the reliance on backing tracks in live performances. In an interview with The Underground, he lamented the trend, drawing parallels to Ashlee Simpson’s infamous lip-syncing incident on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ highlighting how what was once scandalous has now become a common practice among bands.

The debate extends beyond criticism, with some artists seeing backing tracks as a necessary enhancement for live shows. Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P., in an interview with Eddie Trunk on Trunk Nation, shared his view that pre-recorded tracks are justifiable for achieving a sound that replicates the studio recording. He argued that it’s a matter of taste and audience expectation.

Watch Holt’s full video below.